The topical research conducted by the USC School of Social Work’s military center on local veteran transition challenges will now be able to help veterans outside of Southern California thanks to a $316,000 grant aimed at replicating the study in Chicago.
The grant by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation will fund the Chicagoland Veterans Study, a comprehensive-needs assessment developed by the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families. USC, in partnership with Loyola University Chicago (LUC), will survey 2,000 veterans in Chicago and surrounding counties, providing local leaders and philanthropists with valuable, detailed data on the needs of their military population.
We have some data, but it’s all coming from the usual suspects.
“We have some data, but it’s all coming from the usual suspects — VA, unemployment office, census. None of it deals with the very specific needs of our veterans,” said Eli Williamson, director of the foundation’s veterans program.
Williamson heard about the USC study as he traveled the country in search of best practices to bring back to Chicago. While in California a few years ago, he learned about 211 LA County’s network that allowed veterans to call in for services. At the time, 211 and the rest of the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative had helped develop the original survey and planned to use the data to better target local veteran resources.
“Knowing that we needed that level of data in Chicagoland, I reached out to see if USC could work with local partners and guide us on how best to collect data using their framework,” Williamson said.
To help disseminate the Chicago survey, an advisory board comprising cross-sector business and government organizations was established. Researchers from USC are also partnering with LUC’s School of Social Work to conduct the study and ensure the results won’t exist in a vacuum.
“We see ourselves as the beneficiary of USC’s expertise in data collection,” said LUC Professor Janice Matthews Rasheed. “We’re in the unique position of being able to implement the findings and use the data to bring people together to institute, shore up and refine new developments of programs and services.”